chinese contemporary art
Artists >> Luo Brothers

The three Luo Brothers, Luo Wei Dong, Luo Wei Bing and Luo Wei Guo, make works on paper, lacquer on wood panel, carved wood panels and statues out of lacquered resin. In all cases the works are riotous creations of kitsch. These works come from the side of the oriental nature that loves the bright lights and red lanterns that adorn every Chinese restaurant and city at festival time, that loves the peasant handicrafts containing masses of multicoloured flowers, that loves the fat babies meant to bring prosperity and success. Given this as their starting point, the three brothers have added the symbols of the new consumerism now omnipresent in their country as well as the symbols of the communist revolution into which they were born.

The works are in effect a conglomeration of what makes up their society today. For example, the much revered Tiananmen or Heavenly Gate, where Mao's portrait hangs, is a symbol of past imperial power as well as more recent communist power. It was from Tiananmen that Mao declared the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949. In a Luo Brothers' work Tiananmen will be wreathed in garlands of peonies with Mao's portrait barely visible behind the petals. Red and yellow sun's rays radiate from behind the Heavenly Gate and one of the chubby, pink cheeked babies, complete with pink painted toe and fingernails, brandishing a karaoke microphone, will gurgle in the foreground. At the same time consumer items will be part of the scene: pizza, foreign beer, Coca Cola etc. In their series "The World's Most Famous Brands" most of the world's foreign consumer products have been held aloft by a Luo brothers' bouncing baby. This is undoubtedly the chaotic mix that artists like the Luo Brothers see every day. In fact, when one thinks about it, the same mix can be found in other cultures around the world. However, what is so different about the Chinese experience is the way it has happened so quickly. In the span of thirty years since the death of Mao China has gone from a drab, uniformly colourless society that went to bed by 9 pm to one that makes the eyes and ears ache with the 24 hour assault of colours, lights and noise. The Luo Brothers are both reflecting and contributing to this explosion of vitality.

It is fashionable from the wise viewpoint of western art criticism to see only the cynical side of these juxtapositions - babies of good fortune holding a loft a laptop computer or a mouth watering hamburger, Mao's portrait presented as a backdrop to a karaoke show, more happy babies sporting three curly pigtails diving into three little red books on the back of a Coca Cola can. The cynic says this is the corruption of tradition, the corruption of things serious by vile consumerism. They have a point, there is certainly a lack of anything spiritual in the sugar and fat enriched cupcake land of the Luo Brothers' bouncy babies, but one must not forget that to many this is infinitely preferable to drab, dark and unicoloured red. These works are fun. This vision enjoys 'new" China. It revels in it. These works show the exuberant and merry nature of choice.